Having studied World War II in depth and reflected on the difference between those times and these, I have come to some preliminary conclusions. What were the characteristics of those times that made that victory inevitable and what are the characteristics of these times that make the ‘failures’ inevitable up to this point and how can we swing the battle, as it were, in our favour?
The rise of Adolf Hitler was not democratic, unlike the elections of these times. He did however, bring about a kind of national unity after coming to power. Until May 1940, the Great Britain was not united but going through the dark days from September 1939 and then through the Battle of Britain in 1940 had the effect of uniting the whole country overwhelmingly behind the war effort. There was no alternative.
There was intensive lobbying by the Churchill government of unity of the U.S. to back their war effort against the Axis Powers, with resistance at first, but it was only after Pearl Harbor in December 1941 that the U.S. came on board fully. The tactics of Total War were used to the full, including a possible allowing of the Japanese to carry out the attack on Pearl Harbor, despite knowing beforehand that it was coming, precisely in order to bring the wider U.S. population onside. The techniques of information warfare were employed to the maximum because the possibility of an Allied defeat was unthinkable and untenable. Some of these techniques were perhaps of dubious ethical standards or, in hindsight, even advisable. I am thinking here of the bombing offensive against Germany, the betrayal of Norway.
Techniques of deception were used very cunningly and very successfully. However, towards the end of the war, it became clear to Churchill and broadly speaking to the Americans that the post-war situation would be a face-off between the western allies and the Soviet Union. The same techniques of deception, intervention in the media, in elections and economic warfare were used extensively against the perceived foe, the communist threat, usually equated with any left-wing or progressive government.
It was here that the West lost its way. Without the truth on their side, these techniques were used to oppress rather than to liberate, even though the people employing them were the same. With this, the positive effect of having whole populations behind the war effort was no longer active, and those populations became the target of those techniques, of Cointelpro, of Operation Mockingbird, of the almost total surveillance, monitoring and manipulation of the populations by avoiding talking about the truth, covering up the truth, of pushing lies, with the belief that they continued to be in the right, but which ceased to be true from about 1945.
With the political climate tending to go against state intervention in foreign conflicts, the response from the private sector has been, let us take over where the state is unable, for whatever reason, to intervene, whether that is private military or intelligence contractors. But that does not address the real legal and political questions of our time, of rights to truth and justice.
Once the field of truth had been abandoned, unity ceased to prevail, and increasingly desperate efforts and sense of unease leave the feeling of running into a swamp and of being bogged down, without that compass to steer towards a clear objective, trying to repeat the early success, using the same tactics and techniques endlessly. Unity has become a battlefield rather than of de facto existence. With that, the lies of having moral certitude pushed as ‘right’ have become increasingly ridiculous and are demonstrated every day both in the media and ordinary life.
There can be no successful satisfactory outcome without that unity or truth. The divisions and heated arguments within our societies are evidence of our disunity and lack of truth. The current engagements by the West in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Syria cannot be won as long as the preferred methods of deception and lies are held to, however useful or right they may have been until 73 years ago.
The strategy used by the United States, the United Kingdom and many other countries is of soft power, of low-intensity warfare, because it worked during World War II. It has long ceased to be effective in solving problems and has become a liability and has to be dropped. It may work in the short term, but it can never work in the long term.